Peter Taylor, a familiar author to visitors to this web site, is off in a new and exciting direction. If people are central to managing projects, communication is central to managing people. As we have said before, without either, nothing gets done. But how long is it since our project management gurus have seriously examined the communication modus operandi? Indeed, the availability of material on communication in the context of project management is so sparse, it has obviously received very little attention until now.
Once again, the title of Peter's recent book, The Social Project Manager, was, like his earlier book, The Lazy Project Manager, cause for serious heartburn. Turns out that the "lazy project manager" was expected to be anything but "lazy". For a hardened battle weary infrastructure-building project manager, touchy-feely stuff characterized as "social" is for the Information-Technology brigade, and definitely off the table for construction folks.
But wait! Upon closer examination, this book, The Social Project Manager
is clearly more for project teams who work in offices, especially large offices,
than for those who work outside. Looked
at another way, this book is for the Information Technology, Manufacturing and,
to some degree, Healthcare type project sectors,
but otherwise quite foreign to Construction.
By way of explanation, the author provides the following back-cover text:
"The Social Project Manager describes a non-traditional way of organizing projects, managing project performance and progress. The aim being to deliver, at the enterprise level, a common goal for the business; one that harnesses the performance advantages of a collaborative community.
Social elements help mitigate the constraints associated with the control aspect of project management, which is essential for governance. Team collaboration, problem solving and engagement in projects will never come from technology alone but require careful management."
As projects get ever more far reaching and complex, the more accurate and timely information on the state of progress is essential for effective decision-making. But as Lindsay Scott observes in her Foreword to the book:
"... For the first time ever, our use of tools, apps and software in our personal lives [is] way more advanced than what we use today in our organizations. People [are] building up habits in their use of tools to connect to one another, to keep others updated, to share information and to access it in the way they [want] to. ... As people change they way they interact and share information and knowledge, the project management world should be capitalizing on it."
Indeed, project managers now tend to know more about their friends' private affairs than they do about the updated details of activities on their projects. Clearly, there are wasted opportunities here that could and should be put to improved project performance generally, especially where knowledge work is involved. We will explain how, later in this book review.
1. Like us!
2. In other words, "brain" workers rather than "brawn" workers
3. For a discussion of a simplified characterization and hence
classification of our project management economy, please refer to pages maxwideman.com/papers/challenge/pm.htm
4. It seems regrettable that this distinction is not made clear in the opening pages of the book for the benefit of potential purchasers
5. Taylor, Peter, The Social Project Manager, Gower Publishing Limited, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7PT, UK, 2015, back cover
6. Ibid, pp xv-xvi. Lindsay Scott is co-editor with Dennis Lock
of Handbook of People in Project Management reviewed here: maxwideman.com/papers/people/intro.htm,
in May 2014